University heads attack 'flawed' student loan paper

Date Uploaded: 04/05/2017

University heads have sent a strongly worded letter to two senior academics attacking as "flawed" a paper they have written setting out a case against a student loan scheme.

The letter from the Irish Universities Association (IUA) questions the "methodology and approach" of Dr Charles Larkin, Trinity College Dublin, and Dr Shaen Corbet, Dublin City University.

IUA chief executive Ned Costello wrote that the "flaws in your paper render the conclusions unreliable and invalid".

The two economists, who addressed the Oireachtas education committee on Tuesday, claim a loan scheme would cost the State a minimum €10bn over 12 years.

Their paper provoked an angry response within the IUA council - which comprises university presidents - and Mr Costello sent the letter on Tuesday.

He stated that the future funding of universities was a matter of national importance and that the IUA endorsed the analysis and finding on funding in the Cassells' report.

The IUA believe that Cassells' report proposal for an income-contingent loan scheme - graduates would repay the cost of college study once their earnings hit a certain threshold - was viable, and the most progressive option, he said.

Mr Costello outlines a number of specific concerns about the Larkin-Corbet paper, including a link between a student's family background and future earnings and capacity to repay a loan.

"We have no reasons to believe that students in receipt of maintenance grants, or disadvantaged students in general, are absolutely predestined to be any less successful in or upon graduation from tertiary education," he wrote.

Among the other IUA criticisms of the Larkin-Corbet paper are assumptions made about the future structure of the tax base, the extensive references to a "fundamentally different" UK loan system and the use of "historical data" on household debt.


Journalist: Katherine Donnelly

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